Aspen hires global warming manager |

Aspen hires global warming manager

Janet Urquhart
Special to the DailyDan Richardson

ASPEN – Dan Richardson, a Glenwood Springs city councilman and consultant in “performance building,” has been named Aspen’s new global warming project manager.The post was created in conjunction with the city’s Canary Initiative, a multi-pronged approach to reducing global warming that the Aspen City Council unveiled in March. He’ll earn $70,970 a year.Richardson, 32, sees two primary focuses within his new job, which officially begins June 6: reducing Aspen’s greenhouse gas emissions – the ones associated with global warming – and working regionally and nationally on the problem, including lobbying efforts and bringing together various organizations in the fight against global warming.

“It’s trying to create a snowball effect that makes global warming more of a dinner conversation where it becomes a priority for every citizen,” Richardson said. That’s where Aspen’s influence plays a role. “I don’t think this would work in just any city, but it can work in Aspen,” he said.The Canary Initiative – a reference to the old practice among miners of carrying a caged canary into mines to detect deadly gases – acknowledges Aspen’s particular susceptibility to climate change and the impacts of global warming on its ski resort economy.The ambitious plan calls for the formation of the Aspen Global Warming Alliance, involving the city, the Aspen Skiing Co., Aspen Institute, Aspen Global Change Institute and other local environmental players, to help the city implement a long list of goals.

Among Richardson’s first assignments will be coordinating a major international conference next year on global warming in conjunction with the Aspen Institute and Aspen Global Exchange Institute.The city also wants to take an inventory of its emissions and set targets for reducing them and build a new hydroelectric plant on Castle Creek, among other initiative goals.”One of the biggest misconceptions people have, I think, is that this is just an overwhelming problem to solve,” said Lee Cassin, director of the city’s Environmental Health Department. The technology exists to make a difference now, she said.

Richardson is also the founder and director of Sustainable Design Concepts Inc., a firm that helped create Aspen’s efficient building program, which requires residential construction projects to meet certain thresholds in “green” design and building practices.”I can affect a lot of homes in the valley in my current position, but I can affect the world with this position,” he said. Vail, Colorado

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